Nuclear Blast – Out Now
I have always been a strong believer that the creation of new music is a process where old ideas are recycled and presented from a fresh and modern perspective. Nowadays there are plenty of such examples, especially when it comes to the sound and style of 70s Rock. Twenty years ago nobody would expect a label like Nuclear Blast to sponsor bands of said musical orientation but within only two years the German labels managed to snatch two of the most promising Swedish outfits of the genre – Witchcraft and their fellow town/countrymen Graveyard.
Following the unprecedented success of their 2011 opus “Hisingen Blues” the guys in Graveyard decided to strike while the iron was hot and prepared an anthology of nine Heavy Blues/Rock tunes, entitled “Lights Out”.
“Hisingen Blues” is an album I have yet to hear as, I have to admit that, I was kind of put off by all the hysteria surrounding its release and that is a decision that I have come to regret as, one, “Lights Out” is one hell of and album and, two, I cannot draw a comparison between the two albums to allow me to assess how much Graveyard have evolved (or not) as a band during this past year.
Anyway, the fact remains that these four Swedes really know what it takes to create soulful music which combines the urgency and power of early 70s Deep Purple with the moodiness of Heavy Blues and the groove that made bands like Black Sabbath and Pentagram famous around the globe.
Much as I feel that “Lights Out” showcases the skills of all the members of the band I feel obliged to say that if Joakim Nilsson (vocals/guitars) was not fronting the band, this album would not have sounded half as powerful and impressive as it does now.
If his performance on the Hawkwind-influenced spaced-out tunes of “An Industry Of Murder” is accommodating towards the material on offer, it is his vocals alone that make the follow-up “Slow Motion Countdown” the Heavy Blues power monster that it is! Simplicity and groove make the short songs like “Seven Seven” and “Endless Night” the delightful little offerings that they are while in “The Suits, The Law & The Uniforms” we have a Hard Rock tune whose references to Deep Purple are simply impossible to miss.
The second half of the album is even more impressive than the first as it includes another Purple-influenced but rather slow/moody piece entitled “Hard Times Lovin’”, as well as the groovy rhythmical opus “Goliath” and the Pentagram sounding “Fools In The End”.
As for drawing things to a close, no song would have done a better job than “20/20 (Tunnel Vision)” – a five minute piece that combines all the different elements that have been used in the creation of this album and presents them with sheer class.
I am not sure what it is that drives young bands to recreate a sound that for many people represents a bygone era but I, for one, am very grateful, since the results speak for themselves! Groove, energy and passion are ingredients that can be found in abundance in “Lights Out” and these ingredients make it very difficult for any fan of Rock music, regardless of age or personal musical preferences, to resist them.
Nuclear Blast has made a wise decision in signing Graveyard and I feel that it will not be long before these Swedes become an invaluable asset for the German label. Now, let me go and get my hands on a copy of “Hisingen Blues” …
Rating: ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)
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